Jill at Fizzy Thoughts is hosting a readalong of Wuthering Heights. Every week the participants read three chapters and post about their readings on Wednesday. Still a little behind but hope to catch up soon. And yes, I realize it's Sunday and not Wednesday. :)
Chapters 4-14 (end of Volume I)
These chapters are mainly narrated by Nelly (Ellen Dean) and she begins her story during the childhood of Catherine and Hindley Earnshaw whose only surviving parent is their father. One day his father returns from a trip with a young gypsy boy, about Catherine's age, and Mr. Earnshaw continues to take him in as a son--of course we're talking about Healthcliff.
Going to go quick here as this summary is mostly for my memory (which is pitiful, I've learned). Please feel free to skim these paragraphs. If you're a high school hack looking for a summary--go elsewhere as I can't contend to the accuracy of my memory!
(5-7) Hindley treats Heathcliff awfully although Catherine befriends Heathcliff. Hindley leaves home when he is older and Mr. Earnshaw dies while he is gone. Cathy is befriended by the Lintons (Edgar and Isabella) while Heathcliff is essentially shunned. Hindley returns to WH married and treats Heathcliff abominably.
(8-9) Hareton, Hindley's son is born, but his wife dies. Cathy begins to spend more time with the Lintons where she continually hears negative things about Heathcliff. Heathcliff has become so abased at Wuthering Heights that his communication and intelligence is suffering. Cathy seeks out Nelly's advice on whether she should marry Edgar even though Heathcliff is her soul. Heathcliff eavesdrops on the conversation and as luck would have it only hears the negative things Cathy speaks about him. He leaves WH and doesn't return.
(10-14) Cathy marries Edgar. Heathcliff returns all civilized and handsome. Cathy and sister-in-law Isabella begin visiting Wuthering Heights where Heathcliff is staying with Hindley. Heathcliff begins courting Isabella, they run off together and marry, Isabella is kept in unhappy state at Wuthering Heights while Heathcliff secretly sneaks off to visit Cathy (or tries to) at Thrushcross Grange where she has taken ill.
So my thoughts:
First, a confession. I skim everything Joseph says. I remember flipping to the back of my book in high school to read the translations but this copy doesn't have endnotes and I'm lazy.
Second, even though I'm mostly enjoying my reading I can't handle more than a chapter or two at a time. Man is Emily longwinded! And though I love the language I wonder if she might have been a little more concise. Sometimes I'll read a whole paragraph or page before really grasping what she's saying (although this might be due to my sporadic reading).
Third, it seems to me that the characters take a sudden turn towards cruelty/awfulness. As I was reading Heathcliff's initial introduction, I felt truly sorry for him and wondered if he wasn't just a creation of his treatment by Hindley. I admit that I was looking for reasons why Heathcliff and Cathy turned out to be so rotten. But really, is there any excuse for his vileness? And Cathy? I can't think of any justification for her wretchedness. She's just plain selfish and I don't feel sorry for her. If she loves Heathcliff so much, even after he returns all studly (does he remind anyone else of Edward from Twilight?), why doesn't she just run away from him? Seems to me much of the drama in this book could have been prevented. But then we wouldn't have a book, huh?
But all my frustrations aside, I still can't help my swooning at certain moments. I was reading this passage at the gym on the bike and I'm sure I got many strange looks as I would pedal pedal pedal, grab pencil from hair and underline, pedal pedal pedal, hold book to chest and sigh.
Cathy: "I've no more business to marry Edgar Linton than I have to be in heaven; and if the wicked man in there had not brought Heathciff so low, I shouldn't have thought of it. It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff, now; so he shall never know how I love him; and that, not because he's handsome, Nelly, but because he's more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same, and Linton's is as different as a moonbeam from lightning, or frost from fire" (82). [Sigh...but it doesn't make me feel sorry for you, Cathy!]
Nelly on Heathcliff and Isabella: "I felt that God had forsaken the stray sheep there to its own wicked wanderings, and an evil beast prowled between it and the fold, waiting his time to spring and destroy" (109).
Cathy: "We've braved its ghosts often together, and dared each other to stand among the graves and ask them to come...But Heathcliff, if I dare you now, will you venture? If you do, I'll keep you. I'll not lie there by myself; they may bury me twelve feet deep, and throw the church down over me; but I won't rest till you are with me...I never will!" (128).
Hope to catch up to everyone soon!!